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AHA: Too Many Errors With Smartphone Blood Pressure App

Measurements were off four out of five times when popular mobile application was tested

THURSDAY, March 3, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A popular smartphone app that measures blood pressure is inaccurate, missing high blood pressure readings in four out of every five patients tested, according to a research letter published online March 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The findings were also presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2016 Scientific Sessions, held from March 1 to 4 in Phoenix.

Timothy Plante, M.D., an internist with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues recruited 85 adult volunteers in Johns Hopkins clinics, and twice measured their blood pressure using the Instant Blood Pressure app and a standard inflatable blood pressure cuff.

The investigators found that, on average, the app was 12 points off for systolic and 10 points off for diastolic blood pressure. The team also found that 77.5 percent of patients with hypertensive blood pressure, defined as 140/90 mm Hg, showed normal blood pressure with the app.

“If someone with high blood pressure is using Instant Blood Pressure to follow their blood pressure at home, more times than not it’s going to tell them they’re fine,” Plante told HealthDay. The $4.99 app is no longer for sale on the iPhone App Store or Google Play, Plante said. However, several copy-cat apps are still available, he and his colleagues noted.

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